Green Bay Gamblers Named USHL Organization of the Year
Wednesday June 13, 2012
On and off ice success leads to League recognition
The United States Hockey League announced that the Green Bay Gamblers have been named the 2011-12 USHL Organization of the Year as determined by a vote of USHL Member Clubs.
It was the most successful season in the history of the organization both on and off the ice. Attendance at Gamblers games increased for the fourth consecutive season as 110,770 total fans attended regular season contests, averaging nearly 3,700 fans per game. The growing attendance also led to Green Bay achieving an all-time high in ticket revenue.
“The year that the Green Bay Gamblers have just experienced, both on and off the ice, has not only been history-making for the USHL, but for hockey at any level,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince, “so it is only appropriate that the League’s Member Clubs have tapped Green Bay as the 2011-12 USHL Organization of the Year. Operating a USHL team is an increasingly complex task, demanding sound management, talented personnel, and an unmatched dedication to success – the same qualities that characterize a great team on the ice. The Gamblers had both this year, and this award is well-deserved. Congratulations to CEO Ken Wachter, President Brendan Bruss, Director of Business Operations Jeff Mitchell, Head Coach and General Manager Derek Lalonde, and everyone in the Green Bay Gamblers organization from all of us in the USHL.”
The team welcomed more than 5,000 fans on five separate occasions, including a season high 7,507 fans on February 11th for the annual “Teddy Bear Toss” game. The big night was part of the record-setting weekend in the USHL as over 65,000 fans attended games in the League from February 10-12, the highest attended weekend in USHL history.
The Gamblers organization continued its efforts to give back to the community as the team raised nearly $70,000 throughout the season for local charities. Signature events and promotions included the Teddy Bear Toss that saw Gamblers fans donate a record 7,988 stuffed toys, which surpassed last year’s record-setting mark by more than 900 teddy bears. Toys were then hand-delivered by Gamblers players to children at the Aurora BayCare Pediatric Care Unit in Green Bay.
In October, the team hosted the “Caps for Cancer” game as over 2,300 new hats were collected from Gamblers fans and then donated to the Green Bay-based organization “Heavenly Hats” which provides hats to cancer patients throughout the country. Gamblers players went a step further to for the team’s annual charitable initiative as each player sat in the barber chair and shaved their heads to help promote cancer awareness.
On the ice, the Gamblers’ season was unmatched by any other USHL team. Green Bay posted a League best 47-9-4 record to capture the Anderson Cup, the third such title in the last four seasons. The 47 victories were the most in a season by the Gamblers and the 98 points in the standings and 25 road victories both established new USHL records. They also went on to win their second Clark Cup title in the last three seasons, doing such without losing consecutive games during the entire 2011-12 campaign.
Derek Lalonde led the Gamblers to their record-setting year in just his first year with the organization. The 47 victories were the most by a rookie USHL head coach and his efforts earned him recognition as the USHL Coach of the Year. Several Gamblers players also captured League honors, including Andy Welinski who was named USHL Defenseman of the Year and Ryan McKay who shared honors as USHL Goaltender of the Year. Welinski, defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, and forward Alex Broadhurst were named to the All-USHL First Team while McKay and forward Nolan LaPorte earned spots on the All-USHL Second Team.
A total of 20 players on the season-ending roster for the Gamblers are committed to play NCAA Division I hockey following their USHL careers. Three are top prospects for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft as ranked by NHL Central Scouting – Jordan Schmaltz, Dakota Mermis, and Alex Kile.
It is the second time the Green Bay Gamblers have been named USHL Organization of the Year, first earning the award following the 1995-96 season.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 10th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2011-12. With 28 picks during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 13 NHL draftees on its rosters this season, and over 270 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL is emerging as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s multiple social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action online all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com)
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